OneWeb, a British satellite internet company that canceled a rocket launch with Russia due to its invasion of Ukraine, is turning to SpaceX to send broadband satellites into space.
The connection announced by OneWeb on Monday is unusual as SpaceX is currently OneWeb’s primary competitor in the market for providing high-speed internet from orbit to land users. But a heated dispute with Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, the company’s former launch provider, prompted OneWeb to work with SpaceX. The move also underscores the growing isolation of Russia’s space industry from Western partners since the start of the Moscow war with its smaller neighbor.
The new agreement with SpaceX will allow OneWeb to complete the construction of its 648 satellites and beam internet in orbit under the new timeline, OneWeb’s chief executive Neil Masters said in a statement.
“We thank SpaceX for their support, which reflects our shared vision for the limitless potential of space,” he said.
OneWeb did not say how many launches it has made from SpaceX, which rocket the company will use or when it plans to complete its satellite constellation now. SpaceX’s Falcon 9, valued at about $ 62 million per launch, is its most active launch vehicle. In addition to its agreement with SpaceX, OneWeb is in talks with other launch providers, Ruth Pritchard-Kelly, OneWeb’s senior regulatory adviser, said in an interview.
The first SpaceX launch to carry OneWeb satellites “will be this summer, but we don’t have a date,” Ms. Said Pritchard-Kelly.
OneWeb’s Internet business is active in parts of the Northern Hemisphere, but the company will not be able to meet its goal of providing full global service by August 2022. Starlink, the competitive Internet star of SpaceX that relies on thousands of more satellites at low cost. Altitude, already available to some customers on an experimental basis, and shipped to Ukraine in recent weeks.
OneWeb has sent 428 satellites – 66 percent of its constellation – to orbit from 2019, each time using Soyuz, a Russian workhorse rocket that has been active since the days of the Cold War space race.
In February, just three days before Oneweb’s planned satellite launch on a Russian Soyuz rocket from Russian spaceport in Kazakhstan, Roscosmos director general Dmitry Rogozin demanded that OneWeb sever ties with the British government, which had invested કંપની 500 million in the company in 2020. To help get him out of bankruptcy. Mr. Rogozin’s ultimatum follows Western sanctions imposed on Russia.
OneWeb instead canceled all six of its planned Soyuz launches, abandoning its goal of completing its satellite constellation by August. Neither Britain nor any country in the European Union has a rocket capable of launching satellites into orbit. At the time, OneWeb executives said the company was considering launching rockets in the United States, India and Japan for its launch.
Russia-Ukraine War: Major Developments
Signs of a stalemate between stalled negotiations. After nearly a month of fighting, the war seems to have reached a stalemate. Despite a few signs of progress after four days of talks last week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called for new peace talks with Russia.
OneWeb officials said they did not know the fate of the 36 satellites that were launched on the Soyuz rocket whose mission was canceled last month. “They were removed,” Ms. “And I personally don’t know if they’re still in Kazakhstan,” Pritchard-Kelly said of the satellites, which protect the rocket’s payload.
OneWeb is in talks with Arianespace, the French rocket company that brokered OneWeb’s Soyuz launch, about retrieving the satellites and getting a possible refund for the axed Soyuz mission, Ms. Said Pritchard-Kelly.
“Nothing was destroyed; What we have done is lost time, “she said.
Mr. Rogozin, head of Russia’s space agency Said on Twitter on Monday That OneWeb was “useless”, repeating previous claims that not launching on Soyuz would lead the company back to bankruptcy. He suggested that SpaceX could not successfully deploy OneWeb’s satellites but offered no explanation as to why it lacked capacity.